My Teaching Philosophy
The subjects that I primarily teach at Bates, including Molecular and Developmental biology, are complicated, detail-orientated, and ever-evolving fields in science. As such, it is my philosophy that students should not memorize and regurgitate details in upper-level elective courses. Rather, I think that it is important that students learn and apply the major concepts, incorporating details when necessary. To this end, my lecture material provides students with a fundamental basis upon which they can read, understand, interpret and question seminal and cutting edge research. Exams in my courses are take-home and ask students to interpret data or design experiments to test questions related to important themes covered in lecture and in the primary literature we cover during class. I also stress communication (written and oral) as a fundamental skill for science and life and as such it is practiced throughout the entire semester.
Bio 331: Molecular Biology
Offered during the Winter Term
Molecular biology is a discipline that sits at the interface of genome science and biochemistry. Although a relatively young scientific field, molecular biology has been at the forefront of biotechnology over the last two decades, both in terms of genome and transcription manipulation as well as the development of methodology and instrumentation. Fundamentally, the discipline is concerned with the molecular basis of biological activity. In this course we will explore replication, transcription, transcriptional regulation and RNA processing, protein translation and regulation, and the application of molecular biology in translational research (such as crop and animal science, medicine and biotechnology). Most importantly in this course, you will learn and practice essential skills that all scientists use in their daily lives: developing and conducting hypothesis-driven (laboratory) work, reading and interpreting primary literature, crafting and delivering oral presentations of scientific findings, and writing about science.
Bio 328: Developmental Biology
Offered during the Fall Term
Developmental biology is a dynamic field that addresses questions related to how organisms come into being and grow. This course will introduce you to developmental biology with a particular emphasis on the molecular basis for developmental events. The course focuses on the mechanisms involved in making cells that are different from one another (cell differentiation) and the associated mechanisms by which patterns are created (morphogenesis). In the lab, you will explore the phenomenon of development in several of the most prominently utilized model organisms. The lab culminates in an independent project utilizing the zebrafish model system.
Bio s40: Experimental Developmental and Molecular Biology
Offered in Short Term approximately every three years (offered in 2013)
Development is a complex and well-defined process characterized by extremely fast cell proliferation and programmed cell death during which the organism is more sensitive to toxicants and other stressors than the adult. Successful embryonic development requires not only the appropriate developmental signaling pathways but also mechanisms to resist and repair injuries to the embryo occurring from exposure to environmental toxicants. Disruption of developmental processes can have long-lasting effects on subsequent developmental stages and into adulthood. Zebrafish have emerged as a powerful model for studying molecular mechanisms of vertebrate development and developmental toxicology. Developmental genes and signaling pathways and molecular mechanisms of developmental toxicity are highly conserved between fish and mammals.
In this course we will examine the effects of environmental perturbations on vertebrate development. We will utilize cutting edge molecular and microscopy techniques to address questions related the role of a protein in responding to and mediating injury to the animal. The first half of the course, to be held at Bates, will be focused on providing background information related to development and molecular biology. We will also practice key molecular techniques in the lab to enable success on independent projects in the second half of the course. The second two weeks of the course will be spent living and working at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory (MDIBL), located in Salisbury Cove, ME. MDIBL is a world-renowned institution known for its educational and research programs focusing on non-mammalian systems. The last week and one half of short term will consist of time dedicated to writing a laboratory report documenting the independent project conducted at MDIBL. The class will commence on with individual oral presentations to the class followed by a class picnic.
Bio sxx: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology of the Galapagos Archipelago
Offered in Short Term approximately every three years (offered in 2014)
This course studies the principles of ecology and evolutionary biology in the birthplace of the theory of evolution by natural selection. The Galapagos archipelago is one of the world’s most important and extraordinary geographic areas for ecology and evolutionary biology given its isolation, rough terrestrial terrain, and distinct oceanographic features. Multiple islands in the Galapagos are visited during a 3-week trip to explore terrestrial and marine ecosystems using field biology techniques. Island habitats are contrasted to learn how the evolution and ecology of organisms has been shaped by the abiotic environment and by the spatial arrangement of the islands. Home stays and community engagement learning on the island of Isabela are an integral part of the course. Students should be able to snorkel, hike, and ride a bike.